George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 23 October 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, October the 23d 1780


Since the 16th instt, the Frigate waits only for a fresh Northerly wind, it is not come as yet. The person and the Packetts were ready by the 14th.1 I do not doubt but the imbarkation from New-york of the 16th that Your Excellency mentions in your Letter of the 18th has its destination for the South. It is most certain that if they are bound for this place, they play at blindman’s buff, for since 4. Days, the foggs are so thick that one cannot see ten yards before him.2

I received five days ago an intelligence, (brought by a ship,) from new-London, I did not chuse to Send it to Your Excellency untill I had received the confirmation of it. That piece of News seems in all its circumstances to be confirmated by a vessel arrived from Fayal, one of the Acores Islands, at Boston. They say that a Frigate arrived at St Kitt’s, between the 15th and 20th of August, had taken shelter there with four Transports, which are all that remains of a fleet of sixty sail, going to the East and West Indies, under the convoy of two frigates, Which fleet has been all taken, these five excepted by a french and spanish fleet joined together, between the Acores and Madeira.3 I would Wish that the same thing had happened to the Cork fleet.4 I am With respect sir Your Excellency’s Most obedient humble servant

Le Cte de Rochambeau

P.S. I beg of Your Excellency to allow me to make my compliments to the Marquis de La Fayette.

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8. The postscript appears only on the LS.

1Rochambeau probably refers to his son and aide-de-camp, vicomte de Rochambeau (see Rochambeau to GW, 5 Oct., n.2).

2The letter-book versions translate as: for the past four days one could not put one’s finger in an eye.

3French and Spanish warships attacked this British fleet in August. Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy Or, American Oracle of Liberty (Worcester) for 16 Nov. listed the captured British vessels and described the losses as “by far the severest naval blow given to our haughty enemies since the commencement of the war.”

4For this supply fleet’s arrival, see Nathanael Greene to GW, 23 Sept., n.1.

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